Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Maybe I wasn't seeing straight.
Perhaps I had finally gone off the deep end.
I had 1:15 on the trainer last night, followed by a 15 minute run. I figured I could multi-task the run with exercising the dogs, so I grabbed them when I got off the bike and we started meandering through the neighborhood.
About 5 minutes into a pretty easy effort, my eyes caught something strange, yet familiar, in a neighbor's picture window.
To the dismay of the dogs, I had to come to a complete stop to make sure. Could it be? Really? A quick calculation in my head...yes, it's the end of April...
There, in the picture window, not even hidden from the rest of the world or veiled behind a curtain was...
Wait for it...
A fully decorated, still intact, totally unmistakable Christmas tree.
The house looked normal. Well-kept lawn, nice exterior. And yet, there in the middle of the living room, stood the Christmas tree. And they weren't even trying to hide it.
I procrastinate on a lot of things. Laundry, housework, snow removal, taking the trash out - LOTS of things. But this is taking "I just haven't had a chance to get to it..." to an all new level.
This house is now permanently added to my regular route. I think a routine check of the status of the holiday symbol will need to be conducted. I mean, my curiosity is totally piqued. I want to know when they will realize Christmas is over. Or when they will decide to stop celebrating it. Or if they are just so far down the path now that they figure they may as well keep it up until December because Christmas is just around the corner, again.
More than anything, I need a little entertainment on my run and this trumphs anything playing on the iPod. Although if I time it just right, I could cue up my favorite song - "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas", to play as I pass the house. Now that is entertaining.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
1) This is my biggest training week to date! I have 12:35 on the schedule. 2 swims, 2 bike-run bricks, then 2 more bikes & 2 more runs. Ironically it doesn't feel too big. This weekend I have a 4:30 bike ride on the agenda, and if I have to do it on the trainer again I'm sure the week will feel MUCH bigger than it does at this point. I'm hoping for a "break" from the rain on Sunday to get the ride in outside...that's what the local weather guy promised this morning on the news and you know how they are never wrong.
2) I have some new flippers. Actually these are my first flippers EVER! I was just using the random ones available for use in the pool (which sounds kind of gross, but everything is so chlorinated - it's fine) but my swim coach offered these up at a discount and I couldn't pass it up.
I wasn't convinced I needed my own flippers until I got my own. Now I feel oh-so-tough, and really quite speedy. I wish I could wear them in races. It would make life a lot easier in the open water swim.
3) If one more person asks me if my "triathlon training diet" should include staples such as buckets of coffee in the morning, full dinner-type meals at 3PM, and assorted sampling of dark chocolate throughout the day...I may just snap. Yes, I'm tired so I need the caffeine. And I'm hungry. All.the.time. Seriously, my stomach started growling 2 months ago and hasn't let up since.
And if you want to try to come between me and the dark chocolate when I'm already tired and hungry - be my guest. While you are standing there blocking my reach for the dark chocolate, I dare you to give me diet pointers. No, no - it's more severe than that. I double-dog-dare-you. Don't make me take it to a triple-dog-dare.
Ohhhhh, that reminds me, a hot dog sounds pretty good...
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Then came the wind. The wind was ridiculously strong and could not be conquered.
My living room Saturday morning around 9AM -
And moments later, at 9:15AM -
Because if you're on tap to do a 4 hour trainer ride, you get to sit in front of the big, flat screen TV and not in front of the 13 inch old school set in the basement. It only makes sense.
I cued up 2 movies. First was "What it Takes", a documentary film following four of the Ironman greats through races & life: Heather Fuhr, Peter Reid, Lori Bowden, and Luke Bell. It was 96 minutes and it was pretty good. I wish there had been more actual racing in it, but it was worth it nonetheless.
Next in the double feature was "Matrix Reloaded" which has a lot of the best dialogue in the Matrix trio. Some samples -
Seraph, after fighting Neo before he can see the Oracle: You do not truly know someone until you fight them.
Morpheus: What happened happened and couldn't have happened any other way.
Commander Lock: Dammit Morpheus, not everyone believes what you believe.
Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to.
And basically everything said by the Merovingian and the Architect. Obviously I've seen the movie a few times. Most of them with Mr. IronMin who is likewise addicted. Plus let's just be honest - Trinity is one tough chick. The guys in the audience may also comment about her shiny leather ensemble, but for me when she jumps on a motorcycle (Ducati being the bike of choice) she is my idol.
The 2nd movie ended and I still had 10 minutes to go. Then I looked at my distance - 49 miles. 7 more miles and I will hit 56. That's HIM distance. It became my new goal.
I finally got off the trainer at 4 hours, 18 minutes. That's a pretty long day in the saddle, especially when you are in your living room and you didn't actually go anywhere but somehow logged 56 miles.
This morning I'm looking out the window and it's sunny with no wind. I swear, it had better rain, snow, and otherwise be miserable today. Mother Nature owes me that much.
When I was done, I put my trainer back in the basement. Because it's spring. I'm riding outside...
Hope, it is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness. -The Architect, Matrix Reloaded
Friday, April 25, 2008
I’ll expand a little on each:
a) No real reason for the near drowning Wednesday. I just couldn’t swim. I felt like Homer – our Shepherd/Retriever mix – who, despite his alleged pedigree, hates water except when he’s drinking it and drooling it all over the floor. The one time we tried to get him to go swimming he nearly clawed my husband to death. He doesn’t bring back anything we throw either. Plus, (I’m covering his ears here) he’s a little bit intellectually challenged. He does have the cute & lovable factor going for him, which is precisely why we overlook the lack of all other “instinctual” traits.
Back to the swim. All I did for 3,300yds is fight with the water. It was a bad day.
b) and c) The 4 hour ride was supposed to be Sunday but we’re due for snow & rain that day, so I opted to move it to Saturday, which is also the day of the Crazylegs 8k. Something had to go, and 4 hours on the bike trumps 5 mile run, so I opted out of the race. I hadn’t actually signed up yet so at least I’m not out the money. I will sorely miss the t-shirt though, but sacrifices needed to be made.
In addition, Valencia and I have decided to ride a loop of the IMWI course Saturday. She did it last weekend and it took 3 hours. And a whole lotta tears. Her recap included something about a HUGE hill, followed by a couple more immediately following, and the terrifying thought of “I have to do this TWICE?”
It should be eye-opening for me. I could use a confidence boost following the water torture of Wednesday, but I don’t think the IMWI loop is going to give it to me.
Should I return tomorrow and not end up in the wonderful land of Oz, I'll let you know just how far I have to go between now & September.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
I have gotten slightly better at packing light. I no longer pack for all 4 seasons when I leave the house on a trip. For a 5 day trip I realize I don't need 5 pairs of shoes. Realistically, I probably don't need 5 pairs of pants/jeans either but hey - let's just take it one step at a time.
This time I was on the road in various locations for 9 days. For 2 weekends in Sioux Falls with Mr. IronMin and the rest of the week for work, I managed to fill 2 bags. This is serious progress.
Now imagine my surprise and genuine elation when the weather changes for the better when I am in Sioux Falls last weekend and I have a 2 hour ride on the schedule. Wow - 50s? Perhaps low 60s? Short sleeves, Knee warmers, & Arm warmers - oh my!
Except I didn't PACK any of those things. Oh no, in my effort to "pack light", I packed for 30 degree days not 60. This is exactly the type of negative reinforcement that forces me back into a horrible habit of packing my entire closet for a trip.
I spliced a few things together. Wore my tights to keep my knees warm. Wore my long sleeve jersey but rolled the sleeves up. Sure I sweated buckets on the climbs but that builds character right?
Everything else was going well on the ride until the gel incident. In my new skill-refining phase of eating on the bike, I encountered a setback. It's pretty minor, but a bit traumatic. While attempting to open a gel, I apparently was simultaneously squeezing on it a little too hard and KABOOM! I was like the guys from "Men in Black" after decommissioning an alien. I had gel all over my face, my jersey, my arms, my hands, my tights. Luckily Mr. IronMin didn't circle back to check up on me until I had the majority of it off my face. He chuckled a bit when he saw the rest of the carnage and asked, "What happened?"
One step forward, 2 steps back. That's how I roll.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
In Miami I was pretty excited about the hotel because it boasted a "lap pool". I was like, "Really? A lap pool? How cool is that?!" I printed out my swim workouts for the week, packed my suit & goggles, and scurried to the pool when I arrived after a long flight.
Needless to say with the amount of build-up I just gave it, I was disappointed. The "lap pool" was bigger than most hotel pools which tend to have a 40 person limit but look like they can fit 3 comfortably. If the 3 people don't move and definitely don't try to swim. They seem to be more like whirlpools without the whirl. So at least in this pool you could get a few strokes in, and by a few strokes I mean five. Five whole strokes before you hit the side and have to turn around.
I decided on a circle swim since I was the only one in the pool. The water was literally more than 80 degrees and it was so warm it was difficult for me to keep my face in it. I managed for 30 minutes before giving up. On to the next plan.
Day 2 I hit the gym after work to get on the bike for an hour of big ring fun. The hotel gym was pretty quiet but there was another guy on a bike & the obligatory wall of mirrors. I could see him in the mirror from my bike station and I know I shouldn't have looked but I swear it's like a car wreck when you're in the gym. You're supposed to be paying attention to your own business, you pretend that's what you're doing...but if you are me - you are also pretending not to notice the people scoping out your workout as you also pretend to not notice what they are up to. This is why I should just stay in my basement for training. It's way too complicated for me to workout in public.
There I am, pretending not to watch him suffer on the bike and then he starts to make a face that totally looks like the dude from V for Vendetta.
It was freaky - a half smile, half grimace face that of course, I couldn't stop sneaking peeks at in the mirror. Because as I mentioned before, I have a problem. I kept wondering if the expression would change into something more...forgive me...more normal, but it never did. Until he got done with his workout. Not that I watched him the whole time. Of course not!
I hit the big ring work, set 1. The pedals were turning slow, the sweat started dripping from my forehead and down my nose, and my quads were burning. I was trying to focus on my cadence and keep my upper body steady. Then I accidentally looked up and caught my reflection in the mirror. AND I WAS HORRIFIED.
I make the most hideous, awful facial expression when I am in pain. It's truly ugly. Not that it really matters, but seriously - I had no idea.
V for Vendetta guy looked like...well, like...a NORMAL person compared to what I was doing.
Think Lance, after his first NYC marathon.
Yep, it's kind of like that. So I've learned my lesson. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Or people who work out in mirrored rooms SHOULD NOT look at themselves. Or others. And never pass judgement. Mirrors = bad idea. Good form may just not be worth the startling self-realization.
Monday, April 14, 2008
Almost 43 miles, total time 3:16. My goal was to push the hills, keep the cadence over 70 mph & get the avg speed over 12 mph. New bars were raised for IronMin.
And I hurdled all of them.
The arctic wind blasting across the desolate, frozen corn fields was not enough to ruin the ride. I told myself - it's wind. It's everywhere. There's no escaping it so learn to live with it. Then there was the food problem I have on the bike. It's not the eating per se, it's more the dance of it all: remove glove with teeth, try to put it in the pocket on the back of my winter jersey, struggle with the bento bag zipper, fumble around trying to grab something, pull it out, use teeth to open, try not to drop the wrapper on the ground, suck in the gel, try to squeeze it all out, put remaining wrapper in back pocket, reach around for my glove, use teeth to try to get it back on (which is now way harder with sweaty & sticky hand), then grab water bottle and attempt to wash the gel down.
It's quite a circus act for me. Just drinking on the bike can be a challenge. Eating something every 35 minutes is an art form I have yet to learn. But I'm trying. With every successful interval I am managing to move a little bit further away from dumping my bike or riding off the road and hopefully toward something called "second nature".
Mr. IronMin and I did the ride yesterday together and I hung with him most of the day. I'm sure he was keeping the slow & steady pace for me so I could keep up, but he never let on. When I was a jerk and put the hammer down on one of the hills to pass him (all while quoting some Phil Liggett faves in my head, with a slightly more feminine tone: "She is absolutely ON.THE.RIVET. The elastic has snapped. She is wearing the mask of pain."), he let me go for about 5 seconds before catching up on the crest. But I could tell he wasn't even winded. Not his best acting work.
I managed an avg of 13.1 mph (thank you tailwind on the way home), avg cadence 84 rpms. I need to get sharper on the bike, more agile, faster. I know all of this. But I know too that if I can do 3 hours, I can do 4. And then maybe 5. And 6. Over & over again. My bike & I have quite a summer planned. :) There's always room in the peleton if anyone wants to come along. I promise to try not to be a jerk on the hills. But if I do act like a jerk, you have to promise to make it look like I'm beating up on you. For at least 5 seconds.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Today is my birthday. I'm not fishing for happy birthday salutations. Not at all. I'm just saying in the grand scheme of things, today is destined to be a decent day. It's hard to have a bad day when it's your birthday. It's possible for sure, but I think today will be a good day. For starters, I'm here in Sioux Falls with Mr. IronMin which doesn't happen as often as we'd like so we are enjoying the time together. Second, we have a long bike ride planned for this afternoon. I'm a little nervous about it but it's a good way to spend my birthday. A much younger IronMin might've celebrated with a few shots. This year it's 3 hours on the bike, hilly course, and my coach wants me to take a risk and push the hills. I'm nervous I'll blow up, but that's what training is for right?
Then I'm going to be tracking blogger pals in IMAZ today. Not that I'm planning for my next Ironman, but I think doing a triathlon (or an Ironman) on my birthday could be pretty cool. It sounds like the weather there is good, could be a warm one...and I hope everyone has an outstanding day that exceeds expectations!
Some new news - finally a couple wins in the pool this week. I totally cranked up the speed during my Friday "circle swim" where we do laps around the pool with no lane lines. It was 35 minutes non-stop, so I told myself: "This is your half ironman swim". I put my head down, found a steady pace, and just started swimming with the group. Passing, swimming, passing, swimming...It felt good. I remembered that my 2 HIM races this summer are test races & confidence builders for IM, and that made the road ahead seem more manageable.
I felt so good after the circle swim I decided to try to do a flip turn in the shallow end. I can do them in the deep end, but the shallow end scares me. After a few attempts, I did it! I hit my arm on the bottom once but not my head, so I think this is a doable new skill. I'm looking forward to working it next week. Not that flip turns have anything to do with open water swimming, but I am sure to put the hurt on my lap partner with my new quick turnaround. HA!
Back to my birthday (because on your birthday it gets to be all about you)...for now, I'm enjoying my coffee, getting ready to eat my oatmeal, and I'm going to enjoy the day. No matter what that ride brings, I'm going to try to soak it in and just smile. I'll let you know how that goes.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Asking the question scared me.
I've been lost in my head a lot this week. For the first time since I signed up for Ironman, I have second-guessed myself and my ability to get there. I've been questioning why I think I can do this.
I believe a few factors are contributing to this: Two not-so-great runs in the last 2 weeks with some stomach issues. The fact that I turn 36 in 3 days - not that I'm overly upset about this but more and more I see that this body is not the same one I could push 10 years ago. That 3 days ago I entered the 5 month mark - which means in less than 5 months I will be at the starting line.
I'm slowly coming out of this funk but it's been draining emotionally and mentally. My coach, who has a wealth of experience & knowledge, has been an incredible help. The rest is my own brain work. I need to return focus to today and not the distance between today and September.
I know I've made gains over the winter and I've seen results. But 6 months ago I envisioned that when I was within 6 months of the goal I would be super tough and totally fit. A completely rebuilt IronMin. And it's hard to let go of that unrealistic expectation and accept that a lot of my journey is still before me.
I think it all comes down to fear. I'm afraid of what will happen if I push myself to the breaking point. I'm afraid of not being able to handle the pain. More than anything, I'm afraid of failing. What if I push as hard as I can and it's still not good enough?
I know this is part of the training. This is the mental stuff that comes with the physical. I need to get my mind right and have faith in myself. One day at a time. One session at a time.
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Today I rode a very familiar bike route - one that I had covered many times last year. One that made me cry on exactly 2 occasions. My tears back then were tears of frustration and anger. I couldn't keep up with the pace of the group, my legs were not cooperating with what my mind wanted to do, and I really got down on myself.
In retrospect, what was I thinking? You can't just hop on the bike as a weekend warrior and expect to hang. Getting better and feeling stronger is a commitment. It starts in the basement on the trainer in the winter when it's dark & cold outside and all you want to do is hibernate. You've got to do the work. I know that now.
So today I grabbed that route by the shoulders, looked it in the eye, and said, "Let's see who cries this year."
I cranked my cadence up on the flats and thought, "Hey, this isn't too bad."
I accelerated out of the corners and said, "That actually feels pretty good. "
I put my head down into the wind gusts and wondered, "Geez, is this all?"
I attacked the hills...and cringed. Yep, the hills still hurt. But not all of them this time - just the worst ones. You know, the ones that seem like you're on an incline for a solid 5 minutes even though the road looks suspiciously flat. Where you are actually going so slow you have to double-check that you are still moving.
When I got to the turnaround point and the wind was at my back (ahhh, sweet justice), I hit that negative split hard. And when I was done, I didn't even need to take a nap.
That's right - no nap.
Looks like I may need a new route. I think I just made the old one my beeyotch.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
I rode my bike outside in Madison, WI.
My pal Kelly, who lives just a few quick blocks from me, was game to put in a few hours in the saddle with me outside of the trainer. No stranger to lots of miles on the bike, she was ready to get outside too. It was windy so we stayed around town and opted for a loop that took us through the Arboretum, around Lake Monona, cutting back through downtown, then back to our 'hood. We covered 2:15 together then I finished the final :45 on the trainer because - if you can believe it - it was still a leetle bit chilly out there and I reached my threshold for cold hands.
During the ride at around 90 minutes in, the talk turned to food. It started when the pizza delivery dude drove past us...twice. (he must've been lost)
"Oh, I haven't had pizza in a long time!"
"Me neither. You know what else sounds good? Chinese."
"Oh yeah, and Sushi."
"Someone's grilling out - can you smell that?"
"A burger sounds good."
"With french fries."
And so it went. I'm kind of thinking this is how cyclists pass their time on long rides. It's a big secret because they want everyone to think they talk about gearhead things and Lance Armstrong, but really, REALLY, cyclists dream about what they are going to eat when they get off the bike.
I just know it.
So, while finishing up on the trainer...I ordered pizza. I had to run :15 on the treadmill immediately following, but the pizza delivery takes an hour and I wanted them to get started on it while I was wrapping up the workout. I'm nothing if not a grand multi-tasker.
And the timing could not have been better. I met the delivery woman at the door fully worked out, freshly showered & changed, and STARVING.
The pizza could not have been better either.